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Letter from the Chief Driving Examiner23-10-2015  
DVSA is undertaking a project to consider the content and conduct of the car practical driving test with the aim to make it better reflect real-life driving and address attitude and responsibility in newly qualified drivers.

Dear MSA

I thought you would appreciate an update on progress with the project, which you may wish to share with your members.

As a key part in promoting road safety, it is essential that the driving test remains a valid assessment of the skills and behaviours novice drivers require to be safe on today’s roads. 

An advisory group was set up in the summer of 2014 to work together with DVSA on this important project. Members of the group included road safety experts, driver trainer representatives and a Doctor of Psychology.

Advisory Group Members

Elizabeth Box, Head of Research, RAC Foundation

Lynne Barrie, ADINJC

Peter Harvey, National Chairman, Motor Schools Association of Great Britain (MSA)

Peter Rodger, Chief Examiner, Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM)

Dr Cris Burgess, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, University of Exeter

Carly Brookfield, Chief Executive Officer, Driving Instructors Association (DIA)

This group worked collaboratively with DVSA to design proposed changes to the practical driving test which form the basis of the practical car test currently being trialled.  The changes are:

Current test

Research test

‘Show me’ and ‘tell me’ question at the
eginning of the test.

Emergency stop 1 in 3.

‘Tell me’ question at the beginning of
the test and a ‘show me’ question on the move.

Emergency stop 1 in 3.

10 minutes independent driving using
raffic signs or verbal directions.

20 minutes independent driving using
 satnav or traffic signs.

One of the following manoeuvres:

  • turn in the road
  • reverse around a corner
  • reverse parking – either into a parking bay, or parallel parking at the side of the road.

One of the following manoeuvres:

  • drive in to and reverse out of a   parking bay
  • pull up on the right, reverse, and re-join the traffic
  • reverse parking – either into a parking bay, or parallel parking at the side of the road.

In November 2014 the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) was awarded the contract to undertake the research and analysis required for the proposed changes to the test.

The research involves two cohorts of learner drivers – those taking the current driving test (the control group) and those taking the revised driving test (with sat nav and new manoeuvres). Learners who pass either test during the trial will gain their full car licence. The control group is as equally important as the sat nav group to the outcome of the trial. We need to be able to compare the post-test driving experiences of newly qualified drivers from both groups to see what works and what does not. This will help provide robust evidence to support any changes we may make to the driving test.

The trial is progressing well with tests being conducted at 32 driving test centres across the country.

Basildon 

Ipswich

Bedford

Lincoln

Birmingham Kings Heath

Lower Gornal

Bishopbriggs (Glasgow)

Mitcham (London)

Blackpool

Northampton

Bournemouth

Norwich

Bristol (Southmead)

Oxford

Burgess Hill

Plymouth

Cardiff

Sheffield Handsworth

Cheetham Hill

Southampton (Maybush)

Edinburgh Musselburgh

St Helens

Enfield

Sunderland

Farnborough

Swansea

Folkestone

Weston-super-mare

Goodmayes

West Didsbury

Herne Bay

York

Trial Test Statistics

March – October 2015

Control Group

Sat Nav Test

Total

ADIs signed up

-

-

763

Candidates registered with TRL

1119

1148

2267

Tests booked

1008

1148

2156

These statistics are also published on GOV.uk at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/new-driving-test-trial-statistics.  We will be regularly updating the figures to reflect where we are in the research.

We have recently conducted the 1000th test in the trial.

The driver training industry has been involved in the trial and we have delivered demonstrations of the test to a number of key stakeholders.

On 21 July, DVSA hosted an event at the Cardington Training Academy on the new driving test trial.  Representatives from the AA, RAC Foundation, RoSPA, Road Safety GB, PACT, Bill Plant and MSA were given a demonstration of both the current test and the new trial test, so that they could make a comparison and see what we’re trying to achieve through our research.

The event gave these stakeholders the opportunity to discuss the trial and experience first-hand what the trial test looks and feels like.

The day began with presentations from Chief Driving Examiner, Lesley Young; Head of Policy and ADI Registrar, Mark Magee; and Shaun Helman from TRL. Shaun gave an overview of the purpose of the trial and research while Mark talked about DVSA’s aims for the future and the implications of the research for the ADI industry.

Feedback on the day was extremely positive, with all stakeholders agreeing that the research and trial test adds value and reflects a more realistic style of driving.

Here’s what some of them had to say:

Steve Gooding (RAC Foundation):

“I was greatly encouraged by the demonstration of the new test which is far closer to a real-world driving environment. This is excellent stuff.”

Nick Lloyd (RoSPA):

“Many thanks for the invitation yesterday which I thoroughly enjoyed and, more importantly, found to be extremely beneficial. Seeing and experiencing the new test was invaluable.

I was particularly struck by how the 20 minute independent drive using the sat nav made the test so much more realistic to today’s driving conditions. The ‘show me’ exercise worked really well as did the reverse out of a parking bay.”

Ian Edwards (eDriving Solutions / Road Safety GB): 

“Thank you for the excellent day you and your team delivered yesterday.  It was both enjoyable and highly thought provoking.”

Positive feedback has also been received from learners and ADIs involved in the trial. While there has been some negativity towards the trial this has been mostly from those not directly involved with the research.

We have received this feedback from Rob Tillier, Director of Accelerate Driver Training Solutions Ltd:

“The trial test is far superior to current test. It forces ADIs to support learners in gaining a superior 'toolkit' to that gained when training towards the current test”.

“I was uncertain and uncomfortable about the sense of the ‘pull up on the right, reverse and driver off manoeuvre’.  My experience is that it adds further to the driver toolkit and helps enhance observation, awareness and judgement skills”.

“The satellite navigation element of the revised test not only requires sat nav skills, but also the capability to follow signs and directions. It provides a far more comprehensive assessment of the driver's navigational skills and should be included in a new and revised test”.

We are holding a further event at Cardington on 12 November 2015 aimed at organisations representing learners with special requirements.

The success of the trial is largely dependent on the commitment and enthusiasm of ADIs.  We welcome their continued support and appreciate any feedback they, or their learners, wish to provide.

If you would like to visit the website for more information and regular updates about the trial please go to http://extranet.dft.gov.uk/dvsa-driving-test-research/.

DVSA would welcome further participants within the trial.  If you are an ADI who uses one of the test centres listed above and wishes to participate in the trial after reading this then please complete the registration survey for TRL by following the link http://tinyurl.com/adiregister. TRL will confirm your registration by email, and provide further details about how to book a test. Please note an ADI within the trial can recruit as many learner drivers as they wish.   

Together we can shape the future of the driving test.

Kind regards

Lesley

Lesley Young | Chief Driving Examiner

Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency

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